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The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel Paperback – September 25, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

F.G. Haghenbeck is a novelist, historian and comic-book writer. Has a degree in Architecture, LaSalle University Mexico city. He worked as museum designer, television producer and architect, until he was devoted to his literature career taking in full time job. Haghenbeck now is a well know fiction novelist on many countries. Is famous by his Noir-books, like the bestseller Trago Amargo (Bitter Drink), book winner of "Vuelta de tuerca award" for Best Mystery Novel 2006. Published on France (Denöel Edit.), Spain (Roca) and USA (Amazon Crossing). And bios of Mexican artists like Frida Kahlo: The secret book of Frida Kahlo (Atria) published on Germany, Holland, Brazil, USA, China, France, Serbia and Italy. Also wrote the books El Diablo me obligó, Aliento a Muerte and El Código Nazi.
On Comic books, he was the co-creator and co-writer of Crimson for DC Comics (1999-2002); creator and writer of Alternation (Image Comics, 2003); and the only professional Mexican writer in a Superman title (DC Comics). He wrote the graphic novel Corre democracia, corre with the artist Micro and Un mexicano en cada hijo. Also, is the creator of the children's books Santa vs. los vampiros, and Niña Mar with the artist Tony Sandoval.
The author is living in Tehuacan, Puebla with a beautiful chef (his wife), a young anarquist (his daughter), and Brandy (his dog).

About the Author

F. G. Haghenbeck, a native of Mexico, is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novel Frida Kahlo’s Secret Book has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Tehuacán, Mexico.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451632835
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451632835
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have read everything written about Frida and have been to her house many times. I find her to be a truly inspiring, amazing woman. This book saddens me that it even exists. The only thing interesting about it are the basic facts about Frida's life. Other than that it is written from a male's point of view which does not capture anything close to Frida's spirit. As a reader you will come across so many sexist and just plain idiotic statements, you will end up thinking more about the writer himself than Frida. Statements like: "Like many women, she was discovering that there only remained the dream of what she'd wanted her life to be..." "...each charcoal stroke on on the canvas was precise and continuous; they followed the curves that every woman should have." Plus this ridiculous dialog between Frida and a woman in the park after a short exchange Frida basically says that they do not know each other and have nothing to talk about to which this spirit character replies, "Of course there is, Women have tons in common. We could talk for hours...." I found this hilarious. I can't imagine meeting a stranger in a park who boasts that we could talk for hours because we are WOMEN!!!????? ok let's talk about tampons and make-up and painting our nails. Seriously? There are plenty more statements like this in the book but i do not have the time nor space to list them all. It should not even be an issue that a male writer has written a book about a female icon but it becomes an issue with this author who is clearly clueless and sexist in his views and understanding of the female sex. In short, i would recommend you skip this book entirely unless of course if you want a good laugh on a male's perspective on the inner workings of one of the most amazing women to have ever lived.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel author F. G. Haghenbeck returns to a formula that worked well for him in his first novel, Bitter Drink, and that is to fold into each chapter a recipe meant to add flavor to the story.

In BITTER DRINK the recipes are for cocktails or campy alcoholic beverages imbibed in and around the movie production of John Huston's THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA. But in THE SECRET BOOK they are recipes of Mexican cookery from the private collection of Frida Kahlo, traditional recipes for food offerings on November 2, the Day of the Dead.

Frida's recipe collection is the "secret" notebook she calls "The Hierba Santa Book" and it is upon this book that Haghenbeck builds his fictional account of the life of Mexico's much loved cultural personality and wife of artist Diego Rivera, the painter Frida Kahlo.

Are these recipes really necessary? I think not. But they do add bulk to the book and for those cooks interested in preparing the traditional Mexican dishes for which the recipes are incorporated into the main body of the story, more practical adapted recipes are included at the end of the book.

The rest of the novel follows closely Frida's actual biography and it is strikingly rendered in a colorful, folkloric manner. Frida's life is examined through a complex prism which matches her complex personality. Those who are not familiar with Frida and her iconic art work will learn much about this passionate, visionary woman.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this the day after seeing the Frida Kahlo house in Mexico City. Though it is fictionalized it's an excellent representation of Frida's life. It's well written and moves along, infused with the kind of spiritual fiction that Isabel Allende uses to great effect.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The late Frida Kahlo defied easy definition. She was an artist, truly iconic in the originality of her work, and a complex individual to even those who knew her. She suffered lasting health problems, many of which had their origin when this Mexican painter nearly died in a streetcar accident. She suffered from a broken pelvic bone, spinal injuries, and other damages that doomed her to a life of pain, but as author F.G. Haghenbeck writes in this tale, Frida had a passionate desire to live. She personified alegría, a lust for life.

The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo refers to a little black book that had been found after the artist's death, one that contained a collection of recipes left behind by the painter for offerings on the Day of the Dead. And it's through these recipes that author Haghenbeck pays homage to Frida Kahlo in this fictional account of her life, up to her death and beyond.

This reader had first encountered the author in his earlier book, Bitter Drink, a tale of homicide during a major film production that took place in Mexico. In that novel, he gave us a bit of "la ñapa," which in Spanish means a little something extra, as each chapter began with a bar drink, along with the recipe and a brief background behind each drink. In this book, the author uses a similar device by tying various recipes to Frida's life and beyond.

Frida's little black book was called "The Hierba Santa Book," and when it was discovered, it was promptly considered a prized treasure.
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